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Organizing your hobbies

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After work and other responsibilities, how do you spend your time? Do you have a hobby that is fulfilling? Is your home set up for pursuing an activity, just for the pleasure of it? How you spend your time is a true indicator of what’s important to you.

Sometimes so-called hobbies are no more than good intentions, or an excuse to accumulate more stuff. For example, making jewelry was appealing at one time, but you’ve lost interest now. If it’s been years since you’ve touched the beads, it’s time to pass them on to someone who would enjoy using them, such as a scout troop.

Make it accessible
Sometimes the reason you don’t actively pursue your hobby is that the supplies are difficult to access; the physical roadblock provides a mental roadblock to actually doing anything with your hobby.

If you think this is you, gather your supplies in one convenient place and see if your interest is revived. If having access to your yarns, pattern books, and needles doesn’t spark your interest, it’s time to pass them on. My friend Dana keeps her scrap booking and stamping supplies in the dining room, where she and her children can–and do–work at will. (They have another table where they eat meals.)

She took over the house!
When “Melanie” received a custom-made Valentine card from her husband saying “You take the cake, most of the covers, part of the closet, the dining table…,” she knew she needed to seam up her sewing projects. She liked sewing where she could be near her family, but also needed storage for fabrics and sewing notions. By tapping the storage of cabinets in already in the room, she was able to contain her supplies. Be careful not to let your hobbies take over the house.

Contain your hobby
Unless you work on your hobby daily, you won’t want your supplies out where they can be damaged, lost, or otherwise clutter up the place. Use a carry-all case that can be grabbed, such as the cases scrap bookers use. Use a rolling cart with drawers; the wheels make your hobby truly portable. Use a basket and keep your supplies close to your favorite chair. This works great for those who embroider, cross stitch or do other handwork.

If you are lucky enough to have a room for a hobby, use a pegboard with hooks and clips to store tools of the trade. Use folding banquet or card tables covered with butcher paper for a work surface. If the space is needed for another use, they can be folded away.

One of my clients is a prolific stamper. Some of her stamps can be stored in the hard-body plastic packages they come in. For others, she grouped similar stamps together and stored them in small plastic bins with labels.

Don’t forget to recycle when looking for containers. Sometimes an empty coffee can, baby food jar, oatmeal box or cigar box works just fine.

Grandma’d be proud
My grandma thought everyone should have a “collection” of some sort; she collected teacups. But grandma knew something that many collectors don’t: she knew when to stop. When the china cabinet that Pop Pete built was full, she quit adding to her collection, unless she subtracted one by giving one away. Grandma’s wisdom then, is to find a cabinet or container to house your collection. The container sets a limit to how much can be collected.

Collection too big?
Start giving it away: A collector of ladies hankies gives brides in her family a hanky to carry on her wedding day. When I married, two people gave us antique bowls from their collection. Collections can also be donated to a museum.

Rein it in: Pare down your collection to only a certain color or category.
Trade up: When you find something that’s better than what you have, replace it with the better quality.

Use it: Who says your china collection can’t actually be used? Will it give the most pleasure from use or simply display? Make your collection a part of your décor by integrating it among other treasures. That’s what I did with my blue and white china collection, inspired by my great-grandmother Della.